World Rally Raid Championship leaders Sébastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin had the worst of luck today on the third and longest stage of the Sonora Rally in Mexico. As first car on the road the duo arrived at speed into a blind corner with a big drop into a dry river on the outside of it. With no chance of slowing down in time, the car went in hard and tipped onto its side.
Sébastien was OK while co-driver Fabian was taken to the local hospital by the event’s medical crews for check ups and X-rays that eventually revealed a very slight fracture to his right shoulder, meaning he is unable to continue in the rally thus leaving BRX to regretfully withdraw the car from the rally. As World Rally Raid Championship leaders it is a tough day for Bahrain Raid Xtreme but the safety of everyone in the team is a priority.
The other Prodrive Hunters had good runs through with Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq home in fourth even though a puncture may well have lost him the stage win while podium men from 24 hours ago, Marcos Baumgart/Kleber Cincea were 9th with the sister car of Cristian Baumgart/Alberto Andreotti safely home in 11th. For the X Rally drivers it was their very first time driving in dunes so it was a solid start for their build up to Dakar 2024 in Saudi Arabia.
Sébastien Loeb - Bahrain Raid Xtreme
“We were driving alongside this dry river, parallel to it, when there was a jump. That was fine, but where we were going to land, the direction of the dry river changed course meaning we were going to land in it. I did everything I could to avoid it but there was no option and we landed hard into the drop on the right hand side of the car. Even when I was out of the car slowing other cars down, they still nearly had the same accident as we did. It’s a tough day for us at BRX but I hope Fabian can get fit soon and back alongside me in the car when he’s ready.”
Guerlain Chicherit - GCK Motorsport
“It was a real proper stage that. Really tough and rough and ultimately what we are expecting to get in rally raid so it lived up to expectations with these big holes in places, with no warning, where the ground has just collapsed. The cactus are quite something too as if you hit one of them at high speed…it’s a mess. On the stage we had great speed at the beginning but we had a puncture so stopped to change that but once going again it took 30 kilometres to get back to overtake that same car again. It’s really difficult to get close enough to use the Sentinel (electronic warning drivers are given that someone is trying to pass them) but we got past and then caught the X Rally car that started six minutes in front of us but they kindly let us past. They’re quick I tell you!”
Cristian Baumgart - X Rally
“Today was very hot on that stage and that made it hard for us because it’s a new rally with so much for us to learn and take in. There was a great deal of navigation and also some dunes for the first time but I measured the pace and went at the right speed to get through. Tomorrow I hear there are more dunes so I can up the pace and go a little quicker.”
Marco Baumgart - X Rally
“The car is amazing…once more from another planet. We were essentially opening the stage as second car after Seb went out so for us it was very good to learn things being there in the running order. Kleber made a super job today, making the right choice for navigation many times saying “You must believe me”! It was an amazing experience to understand and feel the car at this speed. We very much enjoyed it.”
Gus Beteli, BRX Team Principal
“That was a difficult start to the day with the accident that Seb and Fabian had, eventually retiring from the rally while leading the championship. The GCK crew had a solid day with good pace to finish inside the top 5 in difficult conditions, while the X Rally cars once more learnt a great deal in conditions that they’re not used to and are very happy with the progress they’ve made."
SONORA RALLY , STAGE 3
Guerlain Chicherit/Alex Winocq - Prodrive Hunter - 4th +5m43s
Marco Baumgart/Kleber Cincea - Prodrive Hunter - 8th +19m15s
Christian Baumgart/Beco Andreotti - Prodrive Hunter - 9th +23m33s
Sébastien Loeb/Fabian Lurquin - Prodrive Hunter - Withdrawn
- ENDS -
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NOTES TO EDITORS
About Bahrain Raid Xtreme
A joint partnership between the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Prodrive the British motorsport and engineering group formed the joint venture Prodrive International in 2020. Building on Prodrive’s extensive experience in developing championship winning race and rally cars, its aim is design and manufacture cars to compete in the Dakar Rally and World Rally Raid Championship. BRX achieved the best finishing position, 5 with Nani Roma on debut in 2021, and 2 with Sebastien Loeb in 2021. Its Hunter cars run Prodrive EcoPower, a sustainable fuel made from agricultural waste by BRX team partner Coryton. The fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 80% compared to standard fuel.
Prodrive is one of the world’s largest and most successful motorsport and technology businesses. Over 500 staff are employed across its Banbury headquarters and composites manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes. While the company is perhaps best known for motorsport, today it is just one part of an organisation that in the last decade has diversified to become a technology business working in a range of sectors and providing a range of services. Within the Prodrive Group, there are four distinct but interconnected business areas: Motorsport, operating race and rally programmes for vehicle manufacturers and global brands; Advanced Technology, providing innovative technology for the automotive, aerospace, defence, and marine sectors; Composites, developing lightweight composite components for the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors; and Brand& developing bespoke clothing and accessories for leading brands.
About Guerlain Chicherit
Born on 20 May 1978, Guerlain Chicherit made a name for himself in the 2000s as four-time freeride ski world champion. In 2005 he finished 49th in his first Dakar rally. The following year he climbed 40 places, and was fifth in 2020, his best result so far, including a stage win. In 2009 he won the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, taking the Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi and the Transibérico along the way. After a six-year hiatus, he came back with his own outfit – GCK Motorsport – and a plan to win the Dakar with a zero-emission hydrogen-powered vehicle by 2027.
About GCK Motorsport
Founded in 2017 by Guerlain Chicherit, GCK Motorsport showed excellent potential from the start with several podium places in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. In 2020 the team joined Green Corp Konnection (GCK), a group of industrial companies promoting innovative technologies for greener mobility. The racing arm of the group is a test bed for the ground-breaking solutions, serving to prove their reliability and high-performance in gruelling real-life conditions. One of the group’s targets is to be the first to win the Dakar with a hydrogen-powered car.